Monday, 26 September 2011

Avoiding toddler jealousy

Following on from my last post, these 5 tips to avoid toddler jealousy on Mindful Mum seemed appropriate to share. The advice seems very practical for helping a toddler feel involved in the new addition to the family. Of the five tips provided, two stood out as particularly useful to me.

'Involve the toddler' talks about how some children love to help out with passing clean nappies or assisting with bathtime but it also acknowledges that not every child enjoys being a helper and some would rather get on with their own activities. In the latter case, the advice is to respect their attitude and there are some suggestions of other ways to involve them in their younger sibling.

'Keep them occupied' recommends having a small box with toys, books and maybe a few snacks that can be brought out at times when you are very involved with the baby, especially when feeding. The idea is that your toddler will be happy and kept amused during a time when it's more difficult for you to engage in an activity with them and it can help create a time that they look forward to rather than resent.

Have a read of the 5 tips and let me know if you have any others to add.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

From one child to two

These past couple of weeks whilst starting my son at nursery, I've spent a bit of time with some of the other mums, several of whom have two children or more. I've been hearing them share stories of the ups, but mostly downs of the first few months adjusting from having one child to two. After a little while, they look at me and apologise for all the negativity, recognising that someone soon to have their second child might not want to hear all the horror stories!

To be honest, I have been taking it as helpful and not as something to scare me. After all, it's good to hear what others experience to be better prepared for what may lie ahead. In most cases the stories relate to the challenges they faced from the older child, testing them and reacting in new ways once the younger sibling was on the scene. Here are just a few examples of what the mums have related about their older child's behaviour:
  • Their child has recognised that when the mum is feeding the baby (especially breast feeding) she is in a weak position so they run off when outside / do things they know they shouldn't when at home (eg. writing on walls, pouring out drinks onto the floor).
  • Testing behaviour, pushing boundaries, being defiant about everything and driving the mother to tears. One mum distinctly remembered crying to her husband of their 2-year old, "why does he hate me?".
  • Rejecting their mother's best intentions. Another mum told me how when she suggested reading a book with her older son (something he had always loved), he refused and didn't want to spend that time with her.
  • With regards to nursery school itself, it seems some children don't like the fact that they get taken there whilst the younger child gets to stay with mum. Others however, enjoy the 'grown-up' time with their friends and teachers and it can be a way that they receive some extra attention during a needy time. 
  • Finally, a (sort of) funny story that one of the dads told me he'd heard from some friends of theirs. A child's grandmother asked if the child would like to have a story and the child replied, "yes, how about the one where the baby falls down the stairs and dies?". The parents recognised that shocking though it was, it was better for the child to vocalise such a thought in this way, rather than act upon it!
In all the above cases, I think we can recognise that the older child is wanting attention and doing whatever they think it takes to get a response and be noticed by their parent(s). You can't predict how your older child will react to having another person in the family and I think it's important to expect a period of adjustment and some tough challenges along the way.

If you have two or more children, what were your experiences when you had the second child? What were the most difficult situations you faced? Is there anything you would do differently?
Photo credit

Monday, 19 September 2011

Calling all knitters!

Refuge, the UK's largest specialist provider of domestic violence services are running a 'Comfort Blanket Campaign' which caught my attention.

Readers of the magazines Simply Knitting and The Knitter are being asked to knit small squares, which can be sewn together to create larger blankets. The blankets will then be given to the women and children who access Refuge’s services – with the target of making 100 blankets by Christmas.

I was rather taken with the idea, as it provides a relatively easy way for an individual to make a worthwhile contribution, expending a bit of time and effort rather than simply giving a monetary donation. By asking for one small square to be knitted, it's a manageable task for someone who likes knitting or who is keen to test their skills and yet enables them to be part of a bigger picture that will make a real difference to those in need.

As part of the Comfort Blanket Campaign, beautiful patterns are
available online in an e-book containing 26 different designs created by fantastic designers and stars of the knitting world. The magazines are making the e-book available for free, but are suggesting a small donation for each download.

Sandra Horley, CBE and CEO of Refuge, says:
“Domestic violence is the biggest issue impacting on women and children in this country. The statistics are shocking - two women are killed each week by a current or former partner in England and Wales and hundreds more women suffer in silence. The blankets will mean a great deal to the women and children who receive them, many of whom leave home with little more than the clothes they are wearing.”
Of course you don't need to be a reader of either of the two knitting magazines who are working on the campaign with Refuge. If you can knit or know someone who can and would be interested in submitting a knitted square, get involved! You can send in completed blankets directly to Refuge’s London offices: Fundraising/Simply Knitting, Refuge, 4th Floor, International House, 1 St Katharine’s Way, London E1W 1UN.

Do let me know if you plan to participate or if you have a friend or relative you can persuade to knit a square!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Sensitive skin

Since becoming a mum, I've heard a lot more about eczema and know so many people with young children who suffer from it. In some cases, the cause is easy to identify. A friend of mine noticed that as soon as she eliminated dairy from her 2-year old's diet, the eczema cleared up almost immediately. In other cases, it's not so easy to find a solution and it can be an unpleasant condition to suffer from.

This week is National Eczema Week in the UK and one of my favourite organic beauty shops featured some helpful tips on their blog that I thought I would share with you. As their tips highlight, it's not just about looking at the surface but important to consider the all-round picture of your diet and lifestyle too.

Whilst there might not be an easy fix to managing your eczema or that of your child, there are steps you can take to help replace the moisture lost from the skin and to try to determine if there are particular factors that aggravate the symptoms. It's worth remembering that with very dry skin, you should avoid using soap which dries out skin anyway and that thick oily lotions are often most effective.

Does anyone in your family suffer from eczema? Do you reply on any product to ease the condition or have you identified any specific triggers that have involved making a change in lifestyle habits?
Photo credit

Monday, 12 September 2011

I'm still here!

It's been a quiet week from Mummy Zen but not without things going on behind the scenes. The transfer of my archives has been one task in progress and I'm nearly there but with a few images and bits missing that may or may not be retrieved in due course.

Today was my son's first day at nursery, more to come on that in a week or two once I see how he gets on. I'm also suffering with a bad cold and trying to let any germs escape to the rest of the family.

All that to say, I should be resuming a more normal blogging schedule soon (and have several posts in mind and that I am working on) so bear with me for a little longer :-).

Monday, 5 September 2011

Moving on

Mummy Zen is moving! My domain name and site hosting came up for renewal and involved a major price increase from what I have paid previously. I don't feel I can justify the cost when the blog  is something I write mostly for my own enjoyment only. For now I am moving to Blogger to keep things simple at a busy time in my life.
I still need to work on getting my archives moved over so for now it looks like a brand new blog but all in good time.... You'll also have to bear with me as I play around with templates, layouts, images and who knows what else until I feel like I find a look and format that works best for me.
I might lose a few people in the move but for my loyal readers, please now find me here, update your RSS / email subscriptions accordingly and I very much hope you keep reading :-).

Moving on

This is my first post on the new format of Mummy Zen so I'm feeling a bit of pressure! No, not really. Rather, I'm welcoming it as an ideal change during a significant period of transition in my personal life. September and October are big months for my family and I. Our lives are soon to change in ways we have no way of predicting. It's exciting but also a little scary. Here's what we have going on....

At the end of this week, we have to say a sad farewell to some very dear friends who are leaving London to head back home to the US after a two-year stint here. They have a son similarly aged to mine and the two boys became fast friends and have spent a lot of time together. My son also adores the mother, with whom I have struck up a strong friendship and our husbands come from the same state in the US and get along really well too. We've watched their family grow from three to four and they've watched ours in progress....They are the people we spend most time with so we will certainly miss them a great deal.

Maybe it's good timing as a distraction from the departing friends, but next week my son starts nursery. A big change for him and I! The first two weeks are 'settling in' weeks, which my American mummy friends have told me doesn't exist in the States. For my US readers, the settling in period involves usually the mum, going along to the nursery for the first week or two and making the separation a gradual process, instead of just dropping off the child on the first morning and leaving. If your child seems to adapt and settle in a few days then you don't need to keep going every day but it's done on a case by case basis.I'm excited for my son to start nursery but this morning when it occurred to me that this is our last full week together 'at home', I also felt a pang of sadness or maybe that's too strong a word....

The third big change on the horizon is the new addition to our family, due to arrive next month! I don't need to tell you what that might bring but suffice it to say, we'll certainly have our hands full.

We're doing our best to prepare our son and ourselves for the twists and turns to come but any advice from my readers is welcome :-). Do share any thoughts or tips for dealing with any of the three things I've mentioned: helping a toddler deal with their best friend leaving, starting nursery and a new baby/sibling in the family.